By my count, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys have engineered 66 trades involving draft picks over the last 25 drafts. Some of those trades, like the franchise-defining Hershel Walker trade in 1989, were hugely successful, while others, like the acquisition of wide receiver Roy Williams, were unmitigated disasters.
The Cowboys have been involved in draft day trades in 23 of their 25 drafts under Jerry Jones, which has many fans thinking of slipping the entire Cowboys war room some Adderall to keep Mr. Jones and his crew in their seats, off the phones and focused on their draft board. The only two years in which the Cowboys managed to keep their feet completely still on draft weekend were 2000 and 2011, when they did not move away from their originally assigned draft spots once over the entire draft weekend
Over the last five years, the Cowboys have averaged three trades per year involving draft picks (see detailed list at the bottom of this post), which is slightly above their 2.6 average over the last 25 years. And once again there is lots of speculation this year about the Cowboys moving up, or moving down, or maybe even doing both. It's not a reach to expect that there could be draft-day trades in the works for the Cowboys.
Sticking to your draft board is not necessarily a guarantee for finding great players (see the 2000 draft for evidence), but over the last couple of years, the Cowboy's draft board appears to have been very solid:
The 2010 and 2011 draft boards delivered potential blue-chippers in Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and DeMarco Murray. After the 2012 draft Stephen Jones indicated that had the Cowboys not traded up for Morris Claiborne, they would have selected Michael Brockers and Bobby Wagner with their first two picks. And with the way Brockers and Wagner have played since, those would have been outstanding picks as well, though they would have likely been ridiculed at the time - and there is still hope for Claiborne. Finally, last year's trade-down for Travis Frederick and Terrance Williams also looks to have been a very good move.
On the evidence of the last four years, the Cowboys look to have had very solid draft boards, at least in the top rounds. Obviously, the danger inherent in moving around is that you can end up missing some very good players. In 2009, the Cowboys traded out of the 51st pick for the 75th (Robert Brewster) and 110th (Victor Butler) pick. Within nine picks of that original pick, OG Andy Levitre (51), OT Phil Loadholt (54), OT Sebastian Vollmer (58) and OT William Beatty (60) were selected. Those four guys have combined for 16 starter seasons in 20 years, and each of them would have been a dramatic upgrade over what the Cowboys eventually got. And that's without factoring in two-time All-Pro LeSean McCoy, who would have been available at 53.
At the same time, had the Cowboys not traded up the three spots in the first round and four spots in the second round of the 2010 draft, they wouldn't have gotten Dez Bryant and Sean Lee, just as their moves in 2013 netted them Travis Frederick and Terrance Williams. Which just goes to show that if you cherry-pick your examples, you can prove just about anything.
So what do you think: Can the Cowboys sit tight during the draft? And more importantly, should they?
- Traded for 1st, 3rd and 6th for Roy Williams (20, 82, 192 = RW, 210)
- Traded down with Buffalo for more picks (51 = 75, 110) -> Robert Brewster, Victor Butler
- Traded down with Tampa Bay for more picks (117 = 120, 229) -> Brandon Williams, Manuel Johnson
- Moved up 13 spots to 143 in trade with Atlanta (143 = 156, 210) -> DeAngelo Smith
- Moved up three spots in trade with Patriots to grab Dez Bryant (24, 119 = 27, 90)
- Moved up four spots in trade with Eagles to get Sean Lee (55 = 59, 125)
- Traded down with Miami for extra picks (119 = 126, 179) -> Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Sam Young
- Traded fifth round pick (158 ) to Denver for Montrae Holland
- Traded Patrick Crayton to San Diego for 2011 seventh round pick (220) -> Shaun Chapas
- Moved up to the sixth spot to get Morris Claiborne (6 = 14, 45)
- Traded down with 49ers for more picks (18=31+74) -> Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams
- Traded 2013 seventh round pick to Miami for C Ryan Cook
- Traded Sean Lissemore to Chargers for 2015 conditional seventh round pick
- Traded Dante Rosario to Bears for 229th pick in 2014
- Traded 2014 sixth rounder (193) and conditional 2015 seventh to Chiefs for Edgar Jones and 2014 seventh rounder (238)